Which non SB LIve card can output PCM and Dolby Digital and DTS to an A/V receiver - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-20-2001, 02:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi

I am learning that the good looking Hoontech DSP 24 Value is not yet ripe to be a good HTPC soundcard (thanks, Branxx) So who is ( very) contend about his audio card in this respect, but in win2000? I will use my SB LIve as a second card for games only
I am desperately in needs in having such a card for the HTPS in win 2k.
?
Ky

[This message has been edited by kyrill (edited 05-20-2001).]

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post #2 of 16 Old 05-20-2001, 08:25 AM
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Turtle Beach Montego II Quadzilla. Works well for WinDVD, PowerDVD and ATI DVD 4.1, bothe DD 5.1 and DTS. $39.99 at Fry's. (WATCH OUT: Only the Quadzilla flavor of the card has the SPDIF!)

BTW, it will NOT output SPDIF for PC sounds, waves, and MIDI.


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post #3 of 16 Old 05-20-2001, 08:42 AM
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Hi Kyrill:

___The only other non-Live cards I have heard that will do AC-3 pass-thru as well as DTS under Windows 2000 so far is the highly recommended M-Audio cards (DiO 2496 or AP2496) and the Guillemot Game Theater. If you are a gamer and do not want to use a Live card, the XP Gamer gets the nod. If you are a Videophile/audiophile with no gaming in mind, the M-Audio cards are highly recommended.

___Vern: Does the Turtle Beach card have AC-3 pass-thru and DTS capability under Windows 2000 SP2 or otherwise now? If so, this card may be another one to consider.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
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post #4 of 16 Old 05-20-2001, 02:54 PM
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I don't know about 2000. Running on 98 2nd ed. with no desire to subject myself to additional pain for no real gain. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif Translation: if it works and it's stable, don't touch it!

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post #5 of 16 Old 05-20-2001, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Xcel
IS it by hear-saying of the Guillermot Game Theater or do you have live experience with the AC3 stream and W2k?
Kyrill
Does W2k needs the SP2 patch for that card?
Ky

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post #6 of 16 Old 05-20-2001, 04:49 PM
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Xcel,
Does this card: http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum12/HTML/010620.html#3

work in Windows 2000 for outputting the AC3 signal to my Yamaha DSP-A1 Receiver using WinDVD?

I keep reading about sound cards 'hurting' the receiver and I don't particulary want to blow up a receiver I paid $2600 for a few years ago.

Thanks,
Joe
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post #7 of 16 Old 05-20-2001, 10:58 PM
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Hi Kyrill and Joe Q.:

___Kyrill: I do not have direct experience with the Game Theater myself but Namlemez (I hope I got his nick right this time around …) and a few other HTPC’ers do and I believe they have reported AC-3 pass-thru under Windows 2000. I read about this cards AC-3 pass-thru capability maybe 2 months ago in the Creative newsgroups and it was only a matter of time before some of the HTPC’ers began to use this card as well. I have read that the drivers are a bit buggy but it works and has a decent AC97 sound output under Win98 SE and Millennium as well as Windows 2000. We are not speaking of a 44.1 KHz output but an upconverted 48 KHz for MP3’s and CD-Audio as is the case for all AC97 cards. If you are a gamer and want a HQ dual-purpose card, the XP Gamer can be had for ~ $125.00. If you are a hard Gamer/hard HTPC’er, the M-Audio cards for HTPC use as well as a cheap Live Value II for your gaming needs will suffice as well. If you are a true HTPC’er only, you just cannot beat the M-Audio cards capabilities and at < $160.00, you cannot go wrong with that choice.

___Joe Q.: Those Aureal cards and the very outdated drivers are supposedly not capable of AC-3 pass-thru under any of the Windows 2000 configurations including Pro std., SP1, SP2 beta, and SP2 final. I sold my Aureal SQ 2500 about a year ago so I cannot give you a definitive answer on this either way. I have read that this is a no go but than again, SP2 final was only made available the other day. I do not remember reading of a single success under SP2 beta whereas the M-Audio was a slam-dunk after SP2 beta and the M-Audio WDM beta’s were released. January time frame if I remember correctly. The cheapest in spec S/PDIF AC-3 pass-thru card under Windows 2000 that I use is the Creative Live Value II with the AC-3 hack for PowerDVD 3.0.xxxx. This was made available to us ~ 2 or 3 months ago. It still does not compete against the M-Audio DiO 2496/AP2496 using PowerDVD 2.55.0620 or WinDVD 2000 ver. 2.x.x by any means under Windows 2000 in particular for true HTPC use but is one heck of a nice cheap gaming card in the VIA and Intel chipset boards that I have built.

___Good Luck to the both of you

___Wayne R. Gerdes
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___ xcel@midwest.idsonline.com

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post #8 of 16 Old 05-21-2001, 02:59 AM
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Wayne,
Thanks for the response.
If I follow what you are saying, I should get the M-Audio card since I have zero interest in games?

I have just recently been pursuing using my computer's DVD drive to display 540P on my HDTV. I get a nice picture but stereo only from my Receiver.

All the slots were taken up in my machine until I got accessDTV which allowed me to remove the Hipix and it's add-on card which was needed for AC3 output.

Now that I have a free PCI slot,my sights are on getting DD and DTS fed to my receiver for DVD use under Windows 2000.

BTW, at your suggestion, a few months ago I built a really stable machine based on the 815E ASUS CUSL2-C. Is this chipset going to be a problem for this application?

Thanks for any advice.

Joe



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post #9 of 16 Old 05-21-2001, 03:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you Wayne for the trouble you took to answer us so well
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The M-audio cards are named "M-audio"I suppose?
I never have seen that brand in Holland, but I will search with a search machine.
Ky

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post #10 of 16 Old 05-21-2001, 12:01 PM
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OK...I recently went through a long exercise to find the most suitable "off the shelf" soundcard for my HTPC. I use the digital output of my card to a DD/DTS preamp (Meridian 561) and never use the analog outs. I also never listen to CDs through my HTPC so the resampling that all these "gaming" cards do is not an issue for me. I mainly use my HTPC for gaming, surfing, region free DVD playback, MP3s and dTV.

I'm using Win98SE and have had all of the following cards in my HTPC system at one point or another (always using the latest downloaded drivers):

Diamond Monster Sound MX400
---------------------------
Pros: It has a high quality RCA digital coax output jack on the back and it passed Dolby Digital from WinDVD and PowerDVD correctly. The driver software was actually fairly easy to setup. It also does regular PCM and automatically switched between DD and PCM without any user intervention.
Cons: Card no longer supported by company. No Win2K support. Drivers buggy--some games did not work, some settings didn't stay set. Does not pass DTS. Directsound acceleration crashed whenever I enabled it, scratchy sound 60% the time during gaming. Sound quality was a little on the dull side.
Verdict: I gave this card away to a friend..
Cost: $19

Hercules Gametheater XP
------------------------
Pros: Good sound quality for gaming and DVDs--Definately a noticible step up from the MX400. No "scratchiness" while playing games. Game compatibility was excellent. Easy to setup, worked right on my first try. High quality look and feel components. Win2K support.
Cons: Only passes DTS and DD through PowerDVD 3.0! Not only that but, you also have to manually select a software setting everytime you wanted to switch from PCM to DD/DTS! Driver software buggy--my settings would reset every now and then. Poor documentation.
Verdict: I ended up keeping the card and put it into my Win2K SMP box because the card did have some merits and is SMP friendly so far (unlike the soundblaster)..
Cost: $120

Turtle Beach Santa Cruz
------------------------
Pros: Same good sound quality as the Gametheater XP(same chip). Excellent game compatibility. Win2K support(didn’t try it though).
Cons: Engineered differently but basically the same chipset as the Gametheater XP so it seems to have the same major flaw--it can’t automatically switch between PCM and DD/DTS.. Strangely this card deals with it a different way...They give you a cable where one end is for DD/DTS and the other end is for PCM(!).. and I wasn’t able to get PowerDVD or WinDVD to recognize SPDIF out using this "Versa jack"..
Verdict: Admittedly, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with this card because the setup and operation seem rather complicated but sound was similar to the Gametheater XP.. The "Versa jack" just wasn’t a working solution for me. I also had a heck of a time de-installing the Hercules drivers and getting these to work right. (I never did get DD/DTS working).. Back to the store with this one…
Cost: $79

Soundblaster Live! 5.1
----------------------
Pros: Sounded about as good as the Gametheater XP. Automatically switches between PCM, DD & DTS through PowerDVD and WinDVD with no problem. Win2K support. Game support excellent. Does everything I wanted it to do.
Cons: I had a very tough time getting this card to work perfectly. You have to set things in a few different locations to get digital out working. I had IRQ conflicts initially that mysteriously went away after 3-4 reboots... The drivers that came with the card didn't work right, however, the downloaded drivers worked 100%... The digital connector is a 1/8 mini plug so your must find an adapter because it wasn't supplied. I also heard that the output voltage is out of spec but it works fine on my Meridian. Doesn't work well with SMP (dropouts, scratchiness and crashes)..
Verdict: although it took a while to setup(and I almost gave up), it works exactly the way I wanted it to now and has been trouble free. This one's a keeper.
Price: $65 (oem version)

Hope this helps,
--mike


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post #11 of 16 Old 05-21-2001, 07:00 PM
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Hi Mike:

___One more item missing from your lists. The Diamond Monster Sound MX 400, Hercules Gametheater XP, and Turtle Beach Santa Cruz all have in-spec S/PDIF output voltages. The Creative Live 5.1’s have an out of spec S/PDIF output. Either a Live Drive I/II or a Hoontech adapter will cure it or you can purchase the < $40.00 Creative Live Value II.

___Good Luck

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post #12 of 16 Old 05-21-2001, 09:08 PM
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Hi Joe:

___The M-Audio card are a highly recommended suggestion both for its general use as well as its driver updates when in conjunction with a single purpose HTPC. Cliff and DC were the first to bring the card to us HTPC’ers attention and it sure has been a good one.

___As far as the Asus CUSL2 is concerned, it has been the most forgiving board as far as adding cards and sharing irq’s under Millennium and Windows 2000 I have ever used. Only one time did I have to do a card shuffle and it was when adding a SCSI adapter in a 5 PCI card + HiPix I/O back plane build under Millennium. Under Windows 2000, I have only done 1 5-PCI card build (Creative/M-Audio/Hauppauge/Intel/3Com on my own HTPC) so I can only assume that while using Windows 2000 with its almost forced irq sharing scheme with ACPI will work using all of your PCI cards.

___Kyrill: For a list of M-Audio International distributors, this page may help: M-Audio’s ID’s . I have also seen DC send overseas shipments if you cannot find one in your locale.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
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post #13 of 16 Old 05-23-2001, 04:22 PM
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Forgive my ignorance. Am I reading that I'm going to have a problem with my Creative Labs Live Drive II outputting via optical to my SONY receiver to decode DD/DTS correctly? I'm using the Hitachi 7000 DVD player with PowerDVD.

I'm building my home theater now, and plan to hook everything up in the next few weeks, so I'd like to be prepared ahead of time.

THANKS!!!

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post #14 of 16 Old 05-23-2001, 08:06 PM
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Hi Shaun:

___Not at all if you are using a Live Drive I or II. The problem is that the M-Audio AP2496 is probably cheaper and for HTPC use, Wow is all I can say.

___Good Luck

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post #15 of 16 Old 05-23-2001, 09:42 PM
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post #16 of 16 Old 05-24-2001, 01:17 PM
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Okay, that is good info. I'm really hoping I can just plug and play sound. I have had the Live Drive II for about a year, now. Had originally planned to build my HT last year, but a newborn kiddo will tend to rearrange your priorities. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Thanks for the info, everyone!

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